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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: The Latest Naturally Occuring Substances to Increase Insulin Sensitivity

Author
item ANDERSON, RICHARD

Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: November 1, 2003
Publication Date: November 1, 2003
Citation: Anderson, R.A. 2003. The latest naturally occuring substances to increase insulin sensitivity. (Abstract). International Congress of Integrative Medicine.

Technical Abstract: A number of natural products have been reported to improve blood sugar in people with type 2 diabetes mellitus. The essential nutrient, chromium, has been known for more than four decades to improve insulin sensitivity. We reported more than five years ago that chromium improves the glucose, insulin and blood lipids of people with type 2 diabetes using a double-blind placebo controlled study design. This work has recently been confirmed. Chromium has been shown recently to also play a role in insulin sensitivity associated with gestational and steroid-induced diabetes and may be important in the control of atypical depression. In an attempt to find other natural products that improve blood sugar and insulin sensitivity, we analyzed more than 50 plant products reported to improve insulin sensitivity. Botanical products with the greatest activity, utilizing a fat cell assay that measures insulin sensitivity, included cinnamon and tea. The purified active products were shown to increase insulin sensitivity by increasing insulin receptor kinase and inhibiting insulin receptor phosphatase leading to increased phosphorylation of the insulin receptor and therefore increased insulin sensitivity. Tea, as normally consumed, was also shown to increase insulin activity more than 15-fold in vitro. Black, green and oolong teas but not herbal teas, which are not teas in the traditional sense since they do not contain leaves of Camellia senensis, were all shown to increase insulin activity. Several known compounds found in tea were shown to enhance insulin function with the greatest activity due to epigallocatechin gallate followed by epicatechin gallate, tannins and theaflavins. In summary, these data suggest that the insulin sensitizers, chromium and polyphenols found in cinnamon and tea may be beneficial in the control of glucose intolerance and diabetes through their effects on insulin sensitivity and these products may also function as antioxidants.

Last Modified: 8/27/2014
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